Oh, the bias within this list, the bias. It is strong and I REGRET NOTHING. I promise to give actual reasons as to why and not just a mindless “I’m a huge fan of so-and-so, soooo…LOVE!” spiel.

Just like the other top lists, I arranged this yearly movie review from best to least best, so 1 – 5, sans the actual numbers (I find it makes it look a bit tacky). I’ve taken liberties on categories, or rather eliminated them altogether, because I didn’t see the need to justify my own tastes beyond why I chose what I chose. 😉

Let’s take a nosedive into one small part of 2016 that didn’t suck: the cinema!

Deepwater Horizon

When I saw the trailer for this film in the earlier months of last year – a sensationalized retelling of the worst oil spill in U.S. history – I was immediately overcome with emotion. Tears came to my eyes and my heart felt like it was breaking all over again, mentally reliving that April 2010 day. I don’t quite know why I was so enraptured by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill but to this moment, I am still fervently seeking information on the how’s and why’s and all the details that get lost in paperwork and media frenzies. So much so that I’m starting a massive project to create a podcast series dedicated entirely to each and every part of that event and beyond.

But as for this film, why is it #1 on the first annual yearly review? It hit every single emotion for me and more. It offered an insider perspective on the men and very few women that worked on the oil rig while keeping [mostly] true to the facts of the day as a whole. Of course it embellished but not gratuitously and never more than what you’d typically expect for a film like this. It kept you from start to finish, intrigued non-oil industry types like myself and left me wanting more. What happened to the survivors afterwards, did they ever work in the offshore oil fields again? What became of BP and Transocean and Halliburton after the media silenced its public outrage?

All of these lead me down a rabbit hole named Google and my heart is now so entrenched, I fear it won’t ever break away from these events. I’ve watched the movie quite a lot these last few weeks and though I’ve no doubt A wonders why I’d want to revisit such a tragic story over and over again, a part of me just wants to understand. How can these tragedies and oversights continue to happen and how can we change it? Protect the planet and ourselves in the process.

A great movie makes you think as hard as I have and that’s why this one wears the apex crown, winning for 2016 as a whole.


Arrival

Arriving (zing!) in second best is a movie circling around aliens that come to visit Earth and our methods of communicating with them, and ultimately, each other.

Sounds generic and typical but honestly? This one blew my mind – in that “I did not expect that to happen!” kind of hurricane force. I was opened up, both my thoughts and my heart and asked to question future decisions and life choices I’d never wish upon my worst enemy. It was a visceral, daring experiment, one that achieved its results and more. It’s one I won’t soon forget.

Paired with incredible performances by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner (who is totally believable as a theoretical physicist), and cinematography that begs to be begged upon, I saw this one twice in theaters because I needed to feel that raw, laid bare for all to see emotion more than just that first time. I wanted that infusion of “it could be worse” but “it could be great, too,” sense of thought.

I also, admittedly, adore a good alien story, and at its heart, this one was that, for sure. But outside of it, Arrival was an all-encompassing human experience; from politics to religion, from fear to acceptance, love to hate, healing to hurting, it gives you every excuse to cry and you don’t feel bad about it – because you, too, are human. Just as these characters are. And while it may not be “real life,” who’s to say it never could be at some point in the future?

Who’s to say what we’d do in their situations? You find yourself wanting to fault this character or that, but in the end, none of us know what we’d do if placed in the exact same situations.

That is a damn great movie.


The Revenant

This was, truly, an epic motion picture film. And Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar win was so well deserved, I found myself sat on the living room couch, silently sobbing, watching him speak to the crowd at large. His performance in this movie went above and beyond what I ever expected, or hoped to see; it’s not that I doubted his talent – this certainly wasn’t the case – only that I never suspected everything to feel as real as it did. Leo finally landed that role and gave the performance of a lifetime, there is no questioning this.

Only …he’s been doing these sorts of things for years. Inception, Shutter Island (despite the movie being alright, his acting was still aces), The Departed, and so on and so forth. He was shunned once, 2 decades ago, when everyone believed his lead role in Titanic should have swept every award thrown at him. For some odd reason, the Academy snubbed Leo and he responded by snubbing back and before long, it didn’t matter the level his acting soared to, he was blacklisted and that was that. But it finally changed in 2016 and I couldn’t have been happier.

The Revenant though, the movie itself, was excellent. The story was heartbreaking and inspiring and though I knew it was based off of a true story, a miraculous one at that, it blew me away. That the human body, mind and spirit can withstand such unending massacres and come through, somehow, was unreal. I kept saying to myself, “they don’t make people like they used to,” as I watched the film and I believe every single word of that sentence to be true. I can’t sit here and say that our spoiled, technology-driven “everything is done for you” era will ever produce the same type of man, or woman, that could go through that and come out the other end. I’m not doubting the spirit or soul of human beings, just that our physical selves are so subpar with what they once were, no matter how often you visit your local gym or what type of healthy lifestyle you maintain. I don’t know anyone walking hundreds of miles to a village or surviving bear attacks (2 of them) and living to tell the tale.

Lastly, I know the movie embellished where it needed to, for Hollywood’s sake, but for the most part, the events shown therein did happen, and it left me wondering: what would I do in that situation? What could I do? Would I survive?

I adore a picture that gets me to think as much as this one did.


Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story makes the list for several reasons, all of which I’m confident that most of you will agree with, if you’re SW fans, or just general theater-enthusiasts as a whole. So going into seeing this one, I had a year + worth of HIGH hopes and dream-scenes that I couldn’t stop salivating at whenever a trailer would run. Those 2.5 minutes were some of the best minutes of the day whenever I got to see and, more importantly, hear that familiar SW music reimagined and blasting through my speakers.

It made me cry every time – every single time I saw those trailers, I would get choked up or shed actual, real tears. The music and the power contained within such a small span of time bored holes straight to my soul and the way I was left feeling was incomparable. There’s something about a Star Wars film that does this; an otherworldly euphoria creeps in and takes hold and I’m not entirely sure if it’s because the investment in this franchise is so deeply-rooted or as merely a person who connects to such deep and mind-bending, soul-shattering storylines. Either way, I vibrated with anticipation for the theatrical release and I was not [altogether] let down.

Don’t go sharpening pitchforks just yet – I loved the movie, enjoyed it for everything it was and in the end, was not let down… on the whole. But a part of me, and the reason why this took 4th place versus 1st (which is what I’d assumed it might have occupied all year!) is because of the discrepancies and unfulfilled expectations that the trailer planted within me.

!! – SPOILERS from here on – !!

Listen, I understand that every once in awhile the material from trailers, even those final previews before a film’s imminent release, can and will see a cut scene or two. But Rogue One slashed what felt like 70-80% of what was shown in their trailers in comparison to the final release. The idea that I had for specific characters ended up being vastly different to what was delivered; Jyn Erso seemed to me to be THE rebel of Rogue One, the rogue one (re: the “I rebel” line from EVERY SINGLE TRAILER) and then ended up being a reticent, anti-war hero of a girl who just so happened to be thrown into a battle that would ultimately lead her to demise. I wasn’t surprised at any deaths (we’ve no record of these characters in A New Hope, so hello, obvious) but I didn’t mind that I wasn’t surprised. It was what was needed. But Tarkin was a bit too competitive and his petty “one-up-manship,” got old, Jyn was a bit of a let down, and the no-John Williams at the musical helm was sorely felt.

I went in hoping to see running on the beach with the Death Star plans in hand while staring down AT-ATs as they fired and lumbered off in the distance. I expected Jyn to face down a TIE Fighter, her body broken from battle as she limped on towards it because she was a motherfucking hero. And YES, she was a MFN-hero, but not in the way I expected. I expected this and this and this and “I REBEL.”

I sound a bit whiny, don’t I? Oh, well. I thought I would pay to watch this film 5-8 times and I’ve only seen it once. In the end, I adored Darth Vader’s scenes, Krennic was downright impressive, Saw made me weep the most but deserved more time, the FX were fantastic, planetary locations and technologies were sublime and the Death Star was the baddest bitch in the Galaxy. I just didn’t enjoy how blazingly different the end product was compared to what we were originally shown. I’m aware there was that huge bit of reshooting and who knows, if they hadn’t done that, I might have hated R1. But as it stands, what we saw is what we got.

In the end, I am happy* with Rogue One but there’s that asterisk that includes a whole heap of nitpicky issues. Luckily VIII is in less than a year now, right? 😉 #lukeskywalker


Inferno

Why yes, this is a surprise one for the list! But stay with me – I know the ending was different from that in the book and Hollywood intervened and said “WE MUST DO HAPPY,” but I still thought it was a highly entertaining, interesting and all-around enjoyable movie. Plus, Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks makes everything better, doesn’t he? I digress. I LOVED this movie and found myself wanting to watch it again and then again; it begs of you to think about the world’s overpopulation and potential solutions to that, but also where one might side with such a scenario.

It made me long to visit Italy, as Langdon movies always do, and while the book left me feeling irked by the repeat “traveler’s guide of Italy” vibe, the movie did not. I loved Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso from R1!) in it and how twisty and windy the road to the films conclusion was. As I mentioned earlier, the ending was different to that of the novel, but I didn’t care that it purposely changed for the sake of generating good, happy-sappy feelings amongst the audience.

I was a bit surprised the studios opted to skip over The Lost Symbol, the Langdon novel that came before Inferno, but I suppose it is what it is. In the end, I’m grateful we were given three Robert Langdon movies and each of them were great in their own ways. Also, Tom Hanks.


So, there’s THE Top 5 – the ones I’ve gone back to time and again, either visually or mentally. That said, there were a healthy handful of others that either moved me, elicited the fanfiction writer in me or ones I just simply fell in love with. And they deserve a place here, just as the ones above deserved their rightful slots. I give you:

The Honorable Mentions List:

X-Men: Apocalypse – I’m an X-Men groupie, I admit it. And I love me some Charles/Erik fanfiction and have written thousandsss of words to profess this love. The dynamics between good versus evil, right versus wrong decisions that needed be made amongst friends and foes, or foes who were once friends and how to balance and preserve things from the past, the present and the future are always on point in an *X-Men *film. It was an awesome movie – not my favorite of the bunch, but I enjoyed it and have gone back and watched it more than a few times!

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – DON’T YOU JUDGE ME. Along with The Beatles and Star Wars, Superman is also a part of my ultimate-loves list. I adore anything that involves him and/or Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor. This movie, while not the sequel to Man of Steel I was hoping for, was still really fantastic to me. I loved the action, the FX were brilliant and it BROKE MY SUPERMAN LOVING HEART. I was engaged, enthralled and despite the collective group sigh by media and fans on the whole, it didn’t leave me feeling disappointed or irked. I am a fan of it and it almost made the top 5 because of these deeply ingrained biases. The only reason why it didn’t cut it is because it wasn’t just a Superman film. I know, I know, Batman is awesome, but Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan gave me my Batman and I wasn’t ready yet for a revisit, to be perfectly honest. And that’s that.

Me Before You – Oh, this one. This romance, heartbreaking, “chick-flick,” was simply lovely. The cast was great – Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin were perfect for one another and I definitely wish they were married in real life – but the story was slightly different than what we’re used to seeing. I won’t spoil anything, but every once in awhile I look for this heart-shattering type of film and this one delivered. I knew what was coming though, as I read the book before seeing the movie (HOW IT’S DONE) and yet I still swooned and cried and loved it.

The Conjuring 2 – Oh, damn. This one makes the HML because I was scared shitless. The first one was very good, and did its job in frightening me but the second really brought the demonic heat. I was shaking by the end of this one, my heart racing throughout. Oh, wait though, I’m getting ahead of myself. I actually started watching this one by my lonesome, thinking the sequel would be weaker than its former, and had to stop three minutes into it. I tried again later on, still in broad daylight and once again, after 30 seconds, I stopped. I ended up waiting for A to get home from work, finished out the day, situated the child in bed and we watched it and I was…horrified. So, good for you, creators. You frightened a 33 year old into the arms of her beloved and she’s not ashamed to admit it.

– NO GIF HERE BECAUSE NOOOO WAY –

Finding Dory – C’mon, this one had to make the list. It wasn’t as strong as the first film, but it was still excellent; the new characters introduced were funny and endearing, the storyline was on par with Nemo but there was just something that wasn’t as Nemo-level as I expected. That said, the problem might be with me, expecting too much. Either way, great, funny, family film and definitely one I’ve gone back to enjoy a few times since.

Sully – Not a “for everyone” film. It was slow-going, but insightful and moving. Downright moving, in fact. I was connected to the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ story when it broke in early 2009, because I was nearly 8 months pregnant, stuck in my house and glued to the tv news stations covering every minute of the event. I couldn’t wrap my head around it at the time – an airplane crash-landed in the Hudson river and everyone…survived? It truly was a miracle and everything is owed to the Captain and co-pilot of flight 1549. I urge a watch if that’s something you’ve always been curious to learn more about.

And there you have it. The Top 5 and the Honorable Mentions. There were a bushel of films I wanted to see but haven’t yet – Hacksaw Ridge, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, The Girl on the Train, Jackie – but once I do, perhaps they’ll make 2017’s movies in review. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

That’s all for now! Just as an aside, I’ll be returning to a more personal blogging experience versus the monthly lists and entertainment/film/show, etc. reviews. There will be a new blog specially created for this. If you’re interested in finding out that info whenever it goes live, let me know and I’ll send out an email. 🙂

If you made it this far without throwing shady looks or questioning my sanity, thanks for sticking around! Back soon with more.

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